The Last Throes of Autumn TWTW # 44

Welcome to the last week of the meteorological autumn, Winter is but a few days away and it’s a month until Christmas!

It’s beginning to feel like it will never stop raining here. I’ve started monitoring the groundwater levels near my Mum’s house as if they rise too much then there is a possibility of flooding. I don’t think this has happened in the last five years but things were very different for her five years ago and she’d need much more help if it were to happen now. In the meantime I’m doing the anti-rain dance in the hope that might hold things down, or rather keep them in the clouds!


No long trips for me this week but I did finish listening to Edward Snowden’s autobiography, as I only had an hour or so left on the audiobook. It is a proper autobiography and starts in his childhood and goes right through to just past the events that made him infamous. If you don’t know much about the circumstances of his whistleblowing then this gives a good coverage of his side of the story, but ultimately although he is still technically a wanted criminal he did succeed in getting the laws around mass surveillance of US citizens changed.

I’ve started reading one of the “lost” Douglas Adams Doctor Who novels. Shada is a Tom Baker Doctor story with Romana and K-9 as companions. It’s taken me most of the week to read, and I’m about 100 pages to the end, so things are moving towards their climax and the Doctors showdown with the villain. It’s been an enjoyable read, if a little slow to get going, but it’s probably only the sort of book you’ll like if you’re a Doctor Who fan already.

 


Speaking of Doctor Who – this was released in the last week.


Continuing to watch His Dark Materials (and I got the books out of the loft for a read), The War of the Worlds and discovered a TV version of The Name of the Rose showing on the BBC. Not quite sure how we missed the latter as it’s six out of eight episodes in, but fortunately it’s available on i-Player and we blew through the first 3 episodes on Saturday and a couple more on Sunday, so we should catch up to it in real broadcast time soon. (Trailer below if you’re interested).


Workwise this last week has mostly been about ticking things off of my to-do list. There were a few things on there that had been on it for a while in various guises and I wanted to try and push more of them to completion.

I gave a talk on Tuesday evening, another edition of “An Allotment Year”, it seemed to go down well and there were a few questions and people coming up to me afterwards to ask my advice. I normally talk for about an hour and then answer questions until the audience stops asking them. I don’t think I have another one now until mid-January and that one’s a little odd because it’s a mid-afternoon booking whereas they’re almost always evening talks.

I’ve managed to progress client work quite a bit, and followed up on the enquiry about the new piece of work which might start in January.


I’ve been looking at laptops a lot this week, with a view to progressing my plans to replace my existing one in the next few weeks. I’ll be running them in parallel for a bit and doing most of the changeover between the Christmas and New Year period, but I need to do something about migrating a lot of the data between the old machine and the new one. Most of it’s in the cloud anyway, but there’s enough on the actual machine that I’ll still need to do a physical transfer. I’m thinking about a portable hard drive and moving it across that way as it’s probably faster than trying to connect across my Wi-Fi .


That’s about it for this week. I’m mostly repeating last week in terms of commitments and work this coming week, although I do have some travel on Friday, although not too far away. I’ll also be hoping for a drier week if that’s possible. Whatever you’re doing this week, have a good one.

Late For a Very Important Date! TWTW # 43

I’m late this week, despite my best efforts to get these posts out at a consistent time each week, I’ve kind of blown it and it’s not work related but just me losing complete track of time whilst I was doing something else. What was I doing, well I was editing some audio (see below) and getting it uploaded and posted. It’s a binaural recording from our dog walk this morning.

I’ve been wanting to explore this medium for a while. Binaural basically means with both ears, so this is just 360° sound. If you listen to the player below with headphones, you will essentially be listening to what I was. I’d love to know what you think, so if you can stomach 10 mins of me talking (not the whole time), please join us on our dog walk and let me know what you think in the comments below.


Last week was a busy one, lots of different work related things going on and travelling. The week ahead looks like being a little quieter on the travel front, but plenty to keep me occupied otherwise. I’ve had some enquiries for work in the New Year too, which looks promising but isn’t confirmed yet and at the moment it looks like I’m busy right through to that point.


I finished reading Last Bus To Woodstock and listening to The Dog Went Over The Mountain: Travels with Albie, An American Journey. I’ve also read Michael Connelly’s Dark Sacred Night and have been listening to Edward Snowden’s autobiography, Permanent Record in the car on my travels. The latter is interesting, I was inspired to “read” it after listening to his appearance on the Joe Rogen podcast which I posted a link to a couple of weeks ago. This is a proper autobiography and doesn’t just focus on the events that made him infamous. It also perhaps goes someway to explaining why he did what he did and how there has been the reaction to it that there has been (from both sides). It’s worth a listen, and I say that having not yet finished it.


The Final Frontier by Michael Chabon


Cornish homes take part in trial to supply clean power to grid


Never knowingly undersoiled – John Lewis trucks to run on cow manure

 


We’ve been enjoying His Dark Materials on TV, I’ve never read the books but this is shaping up to be a good series, even if I’m still on 100% sure what’s going on, but then I guess that might just be the point. The latest adaptation of War of the Worlds also started last night, I haven’t had a chance to watch all of the first episode yet but it looks promising.


Okay I need to stop typing this now and hit post otherwise it will never happen. Hope you have a great week, and hopefully normal service will be resumed next Monday (or maybe not).

What’s In My Bag November 2019

It’s been a long time since I’ve done one of these posts. There’s a previous one here, and there are others out there in various places on the interwebs, but I thought I’d snap a quick pic of what was in my bag yesterday following a visit to a client. As I was driving there and back there’s a noticeable lack of a book or my kindle, when my method of transport is by train one or both of these find their way into my bag.

Also not pictured is my reusable mug and water bottle as they’re in the dishwasher.

1. Messenger style briefcase (A Christmas present from my parents about 10 years ago. It’s still going, and has aged quite well. Still use it because of the sentimental attachment).
2. Current Laptop – Lenovo G50 64-bit running Windows 10. This is starting to show it’s age and I’m thinking about replacing it in the next couple of months, possibly going to a Mac.
3. Logitech Anywhere MX wireless mouse
4. Laptop power supply
5. Pens / pencils. I use a fountain pen a lot. I was carrying a Parker Sonnet when this was taken.
6. Old 35 mm film canister containing £1 coins (for car parks / emergency coffees etc)
7. Paracetamols
8. Hag stone
9. Savlon
10. Tissues
11. Inhaler
12. Business cards
13. Hand cream
14. Post-Its
15. USB Thumb Drive
16. Umbrella
17. Anker power cell for recharging phone or iPad (if I’m carrying the latter)
18. A4 notepad
19. Client specific notes / papers
20.Field Notes notebook for ideas, thoughts etc
21. Mobile phone – currently iPhone 8.

A Fox In The Darkness At Nighttime TWTW # 41

We had our first big Autumn / Winter storm of the weekend. Wet and windy, trees down, power cuts, the whole shebang. For once the weather warning was pretty accurate, which is what they’re for. Otherwise this week has mostly been about the client work. I’ve reached some fairly major milestones with a couple of clients but as it’s been half-term here this last week my clients have mostly been quiet. It’s interesting working in that ecosystem again where school holidays often dictate staff holidays (not unsurprisingly) but not my own.


img_20191029_154754176I had a delivery of some new ink this week. This was a little present to myself for reaching client milestones.

They’re Sky Blue and Prairie Green. I love the green, but I have to say that I’m not sure who’s sky is that blue. It’s much lighter than what I would say is Sky Blue. These are a couple of special edition bottles, and I hope that the green becomes a regular part of their range as I would use it on a regular basis. If not when it’s gone, it’s gone.

 


img_20191029_192943_786

This week I’ve mostly been reading Red Moon by Kim Stanley Robinson. I say reading because I haven’t been much progress, although I did finally finish it late last night. Most of my reading has been around bedtime but sleep has been creeping up on me by the time I’ve read a few pages and so the story is building very slowly.

I am enjoying it though, I wonder whether it is going to be the first book of a trilogy, like his Mars books were (Red, Blue, Green), as the ending doesn’t resolve any of the plot. There is an untitled “Kim Stanley Robinson Book 2” listed on Amazon which you can pre-order for October 2020, so it seems quite possible.


The government has banned fracking. I’m a little surprised by the announcement, as it seemed the government was going to be forever the hypocrite of saying they were doing wonderful things to stop climate change whilst allowing the practice of fracking to take place. It’s interesting though that I haven’t seen any comment on this from the fracking industry itself. I’m sure they’re not happy about it and in all honesty would expect them to sue the government.


How HP Lovecraft became the world’s favourite horror writer


Bread and Books – Seth Godin


Photo’s from the California wildfires


The Bic Biro: Design Classics


Aaron Sorkin: An Open Letter to Mark Zuckerberg – The New York Times


Remember: it’s austerity, not Europe that broke Britain


We’ve been watching Season 2 of Jack Ryan, in fact we watched all 8 episodes over Friday to Sunday evenings. It was good, but not as good as Season 1, although I’m glad it didn’t follow the ISIS / Al-Qaeda trope that so many TV series seem to. Overall probably about 2.5 stars out of 5.


Something has been digging up one of the recently dug and planted (broad beans) beds on the allotment. I’m not sure what it was although I had my suspicions that it might have been the badgers. So I set up the trail cam to see if I could catch the culprit in action. It didn’t actually capture anything in the act, although it did capture a picture of a fox. I’m not sure what happened but I think a combination of the cold and low batteries means that after it captured that one image the camera stopped working. So I might have to try again, once again I get some new batteries.

imag0007

Other than that I’ve been quiet on the plot because of the stormy weather.


img_20191029_160017559The laptop that I’m writing this on, and is my current main business and everything else tool is beginning to show it’s age and I’ve been thinking that I need to upgrade it sooner rather than later. My plan currently is to wait until Black Friday / Cyber Monday in the hope that I might get a little bit of a discount on a new one. Having researched what I need and getting it down to 3 or 4 possibilities. If that happens the plan is to then move files and everything else over during the downtime between Christmas and New Year. In the meantime my current machine took about six hours to do an update last week. Fortunately I’d finished working for the day, and so just left the machine running until it was done (just before I went to bed).


The week ahead sees me on the road again for a client visit and I have a choice of audiobooks for the journey – not sure which I’m going to opt for yet. I also need to work out what “physical” book I’m going to pick up next.

Whatever you’re up to this week have a good one!

Watch Out For The Wicked Witch! TWTW # 34

I’m sorry this is posting later than normal – I thought I’d set it to post automatically this morning but something went wrong.

img_20190905_153745378-1

Well it’s been another busy working week, I’ve been progressing things for clients and had another trip down to Somerset for a meeting with one of them. I like being busy, although it is easy to worry about making sure everything gets done, particularly with life outside of work being a little uncertain and at times also time consuming.

I stopped in a lay-by on my way back from Somerset on Thursday, it’s one that is only legally accessible to access from one side of the road, and I’ve travelled back via different routes before so only passed the lay-by before on the “wrong side” of the road. This time I pulled in to eat the sandwiches I’d made in the morning for a late lunch and saw this little cafe there. Apart from the imposing CCTV signs it looks like it might be a nice lunch stop, perhaps another time when I’m a bit early and they’re still open. I wondered aloud on Instagram about where Hansel & Gretel might be.


img_20190905_100612596

I also picked up a little bluetooth receiver this week for the car. I’ve been doing a bit more travelling recently and there’s only so much Radio 4 you can listen to at the moment, when every other story is about Brexit. Using this I’ve been able to connect my phone to car radio and listen to audiobooks from my phone (and have the navigation prompts over the car radio, which interrupt the audiobooks seamlessly and then go back to the book). I’m impressed. I think I could also link my kindle to it to listen to the audiobooks that I have on there, but then wouldn’t be able to have that and the navigation available.


img_20190906_073641783

Things on the allotment are starting to die back a bit at the moment. I need to go down with the wheelbarrow and bring back all the pumpkins and butternut squashes that are down there. There’s also been a manure delivery so I need to go down and move some of it across to my plot. Tomatoes are doing well in the potting shed, as is finally my first aubergine. I suspect it will be the only one I get this year. Although the plants have been covered in flowers this is the only one that has actually come to fruit.


img_20190907_124725437

I picked up a few paperbacks on Saturday morning when I was passing the secondhand book shop. The Alistair Maclean’s are a bit of staple from my childhood, as is the Doctor Who book. The latter made more poignant as the author Terrance Dicks died very recently.


Love this electric JCB digger:


42 Douglas Adams quotes to live by


img_20190907_123631445

In addition to the books I picked up on Saturday, I’ve been reading one of the new “Dragon Tatoo” books. I think it’s the second of the three that have been published postumously and on the basis of having read the first of the “new” books and now this one I don’t really think they are a patch on the originals. They’re a bit like fan-fiction taken too seriously by a publisher. I’m not even sure whether or not I’ll finish this one. I suspect I will but given that the only time I’ve really had a chance to read (other than audiobooks in the car) has been at bedtime, when I’m too tired to read for more than a few minutes, it’ll take a while.

screenshot_20190907-133145

I’ve been listening to “I Contain Multitudes” by Ed Yong in the car. All about microbes and such and absolutely fascinating. This audiobook thing is a bit of an experiment. I used to have an Audible subscription, but I wasn’t listening to the books I was downloading and so paused it. If I catch up I might consider starting it again. After all a 4 hour roundtrip in the car or 6 hours on the train is a lot of listening.

Also in audio listening I noticed that both Roger Deakin’s BBC shorts The House and The Garden are available again online. Not sure how long they’ll be available for or whether they’ll be accessible outside of the UK, but they are worth a listen. His old short Cigarette on the Waveney is also available (cigarette is a type / name of a canoe).


I just picked up my personal journal to see if I’d missed anything that I should add to this post, and realised that I haven’t written anything in it since Monday, so it must have been a busy one!

I have a couple of personal meetings this week and it’s Ann’s birthday, but otherwise my time is mostly going to be occupied with work.

EDpGB1FWwAcgXHe

Pineider Ink Filler – Demo & Review

I’ve mentioned in previous posts that I was given a Pineider Ink Filler (portable ink well) as a birthday present a couple of weeks ago. I’ve had a chance to use it a bit and I have to say for the price (about £20), it’s a great bit of kit. Only downside I can see is the top stopper and how durable that will be in the longer term.

Mine was purchased from Cult Pens but other stationery suppliers are available.

Now that I’ve used it a bit I thought I’d do a short demonstration and review video. You can find the video below.

Penguin Cubes


One of my more novel Christmas presents. Plastic, water filled, penguins. Put them in the freezer, and then add them to your drink once frozen to do the same job as ice cubes, without diluting your drink.